Category: Vegetarian (Page 1 of 11)

What We Eat: A Peek at Our Weekly Menu

I’ve had people ask time and time again what a typical week of eating looks like for me and Bill. Every week is different, but I thought I’d give you a glimpse of what last week and the upcoming week consisted of for our meals.

I tend to make a combination of my own recipes from this blog and often look to the Nourishing Meals Cookbook, The Undiet CookbookForks Over Knives: The Cookbook or one of Rebecca Katz’s many healing cookbooks, with a recent focus on The Longevity Kitchen Cookbook

We pretty much follow Michael Pollan’s advice to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Sometimes I’m a little off on the “not too much” part, if I’m being completely honest, but we prioritize eating real food made from ingredients we recognize and can pronounce. The vast majority of what we eat, especially for me, consists of plant-based foods like veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts and seeds, and we load up on herbs and spices for flavor. I do eat some animal proteins a couple of times a week, usually wild caught fish or pasture-raised chicken or eggs.

My husband Bill’s German heritage demands a higher animal protein ratio than what I eat. He just feels better eating a bit more of it than me! That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of listening to your body and paying attention to what gives you energy and what takes it away. I encourage you to experiment with different foods to see which ones make you feel best. For more on my philosophy around food and eating, check out this recent post.

Okay, now let’s get back to the food. Want to know what a week of breakfast, lunch and dinner looks like for us? Check out the list below!

Breakfast

Because I’m on a healing foods protocol through my nutritionist, as I’m restoring my body from Epstein-Barr Virus, I’m not eating certain things that Bill eats on a regular basis, like eggs. He loves making breakfast and puts in a lot of work each morning. A typical breakfast for him consists of roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed onions and tomatoes or peppers, and an egg, usually served on or with a Swapple, which is one of my favorite freezer staples as well. We also like Bilinski’s casing-free, real food chicken sausage, especially the kale balsamic version!

I usually have a smoothie because it’s the easiest way to pack a lot of goodness into one glass (or smoothie bowl!). I’ve been opting for blueberries as my main fruit because of how antioxidant-packed they are. I alternate which fats I use, including coconut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and avocado. I usually throw in a handful of baby spinach or baby kale and round out everything with a scoop of protein powder or an extra sprinkle of hemp seeds.

I’ll have to share the smoothie I’ve been making lately, so you have the recipe, but this Blueberry Blast Smoothie is pretty similar!

I absolutely LOVE the Oat Berry Yogurt Muffin recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook and have been serving that with Trader Joe’s mixed nut butter. I also tried the Detoxinista’s Vegan Almond Flour Banana Bread. It’s RICH and pretty hearty, since it’s made with almonds as the base, but I really liked the flavors!

Lunch & Dinner

To be honest, lunch and dinner don’t look that different for us. I almost always have a big salad for lunch as my base and often serve up leftovers from dinner for lunch because it makes things easier and saves us time. I’m a big advocate of making grain or salad bowls, which basically consists of throwing together some cooked and raw veggies (focus on leafy greens!), some source of protein (usually beans), something crunchy like nuts or seeds, and a grain like quinoa or brown rice if I’m making a grain bowl. I top it all off with a dressing and toss everything together.

As much as I love to cook, sometimes I need something nourishing when I haven’t planned ahead and packed. When I’m on the go, some of my favorite places to hit up are Stall11 at RHouse, sweetgreen, Harmony Bakery, the Naked Lunch Cafe, and Whole Foods Market hot bar and salad bar. I link to all of those places and others in my healthy foodie dining guide to Baltimore.

Here’s what we’ve been cooking up lately!

That’s a look at some of what we’ve been cooking up in our kitchen lately. We stick with some of our favorite familiar staples and try a few new ones here and there.

How about you? What’s on your menu? Try anything new lately? Feel free to share in the comments below! I love trying new recipes 🙂

3 Beautiful Smoothie Bowl Recipes to Try

I’ve been a fan of smoothies for years because of how many nutrients you can pack into one meal. But I’ve also noticed something you may find to be true as well.

I tend to drink them fast. Like, under two minutes fast.

That’s a lot of food entering your stomach at an unnaturally fast rate, which can lead to things like bloating, gas, indigestion, and overeating. You can drink fruits and vegetables at a rate of about two cups per minute when you get them through a smoothie. This can undermine your body’s capacity to recognize that you’re full because the body needs about 20 minutes to register that you’re satiated once you start eating.

So, what’s one idea for slowing down your smoothie drinking pace?

Put it in a bowl!

Yup, make a smoothie bowl.

It’s not that complicated either. All you’re really doing is using slightly less liquid (1/4-1/2 cup less than usual), so you end up with a thicker consistency that can be poured into a bowl instead of into a glass. It’s also important to use thickening ingredients like chia seeds, avocado, frozen banana, soaked raw cashews, and even peeled zucchini to reach your desired consistency.

Now, I do have a few words of caution and something you’ll want to keep in mind when going this route. Smoothie bowls are often topped with heaps of granola, honey, maple syrup, nuts, a whole banana, etc., which makes for a pretty picture. But, on top of all of the ingredients that are already in a smoothie, this can be overkill, so use your toppings sparingly. Try not to overdo it. Notice how your body feels and adjust accordingly! Less is more 🙂

Check out the three smoothie bowl recipes below that I’ve previously posted on my instagram page. If you’re looking for even more smoothie bowl inspiration, here is a list of nine smoothie bowls from Greatist and 11 from Buzzfeed!

Berry Good Smoothie Bowl 

Ingredients

1 tsp flax seeds or flax meal
2 teaspoons hemp seeds
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon coconut butter (optional but tasty!)
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1/2 tsp raw honey
1 cup baby spinach
1-1.5 cups almond milk (start with one cup for a thicker bowl)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Directions: Blend all ingredients, except the berries, in a high-speed blender for about 15-20 seconds. Then, add berries and blend until smooth, adding additional almond milk, as needed, until it reaches your desired thickness. Pour into a bowl and top with additional berries and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.

Shrek Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1/2 cup frozen mango
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 tsp fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 small avocado
1 cup baby spinach
1 scoop unflavored protein powder (I like Vital Proteins and Bulletproof Collagen Protein because they are flavorless!)
1/2 tsp raw honey
1-1.5 cups water (start with 1 cup and add more as needed)

Directions: Blend everything together until you reach a smooth, thick consistency. Pour into bowl, sprinkle with shredded coconut, and serve with a spoon!

Berry Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients

1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberries and raspberries)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1.5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Medjool date, pitted
1 scoop unflavored protein powder (I used Vital Proteins)

1 – 1.5 cups dairy-free milk (start with 1 cup and add more 1/4 cup at a time)

Directions: Put everything in a blender and blend for about a minute or until smooth. Pour into bowl and sprinkle with goji berries and cacao nibs.

So, what about you? Are you a fan of smoothie bowls? Do you have any favorite recipes? Feel free to share them below!

14 Valentine’s Day Sweet Treat Recipes {Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free}

Bill and I love holidays and find ways to make them special. My family always did that growing up, so it’s a tradition I’ve carried into my marriage.

This past week, I thought it would be neat to buy a card and a treat for Bill for each day leading up to Valentine’s Day.

I put a card and a treat in a brown paper bag with “Happy <3 Week” written on it and put it in his backpack each day.

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It was fun for me to do and I know it will be at least one bright spot in the midst of his hectic days as an elementary school phys ed teacher. I’m not sure what he has planned for this weekend, but I’m looking forward to it!

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, one thing is for sure – BOTH of us love chocolate.

We are fans and followers of our favorite Baltimore-based chocolatier, Jinji, and know that Valentine’s Day is not complete unless we are eating some of her amazingly delicious chocolate creations. It’s seriously the purest, richest chocolate I’ve ever tasted.

truffles

Truffles galore! They’re always so creative and decadent.

If you can’t make it out to your favorite chocolate shop, or you just want to make a delicious sweet treat at home, try one of these 14 Valentine’s Day-worthy recipes below.

They are all dairy-free, gluten-free, and made without refined sugar. Many of them are paleo-friendly as well, so give at least one of them a try!Vday Collage.jpg

The first recipe holds a special place in my heart because dark chocolate caramels are pretty much the best thing ever.

Homemade Rolos by oh she glows

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Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Oatmeal Heart Cookies by Nourishing Meals

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Photo Credit: Nourishing Meals. Used with permission.

Sweet & Salty Super Food Chocolate Bark by RNK

Superfood Bark

Cherry Dark Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies by RNK

cherry choco chip cookies

Two Layer Raw Chocolate Brownies by oh she glows

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Photo credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Cacao Mousse & Raspberry Parfaits by Begin Within Nutrition

mousse

Photo Credit: Begin Within Nutrition. Used with permission.

Cherry Chocolate Brownie Bites by RNK

cherry choco bites

Seductive Raw Chocolate Walnut Fudge by oh she glows

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Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Easy Strawberry Cheesecake by Kasia Kines (my nutritionist!)

Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles by RNK

Dark Chocolate Berry Cups by Yuri Elkaim

Healthy Valentines Berry Cups

Photo Credit: Yuri Elkaim. Used with permission.

Peanut Better Balls by oh she glows

PB Balls.JPG

Photo Credit: Angela Liddon. Used with permission.

Mint Chocolate Crunch Bliss Balls by RNK

Mint Chocolate Chip Bliss Balls

Peanut Butter Cup Pie by The Detoxinista

no bake

What are your favorite sweet treat recipes?

Feel free to leave a comment below and share!

 

Simple Vegetable & Chickpea Soup

Nothing hits the spot on a cold winter day like a warm and cozy bowl of soup. This recipe has quickly become one of our favorites and is one we’ll be making again soon.

About five years ago, I was trying to get to the bottom of years of acid reflux, frequent colds and congestion and seasonal bronchitis, so I removed certain foods from my diet for about 10 days. It was during that time and in the months that followed, that I discovered dairy products to be the #1 trigger of my sinus and respiratory issues. Once I removed dairy, my health issues practically disappeared.

It was amazing.

I had been learning about the health benefits of food for years at that point. But I never realized how connected my diet was to why I got sick so often and wasn’t feeling my best.

Since that time, I’ve continued to “clean up” my diet with the goal of feeling as good as possible as often as possible. I take supplements and probiotics to repair and restore my health after taking years of antibiotics and acid reducers. In addition, I’ve found that foods containing gluten trigger me as well, so I steer clear of them.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been taking my body through an experiment. It’s kind of like an investigation to better understand why I’ve been feeling a little “off” for the past few months. Because I wanted to get to the root of what my body is trying to tell me, I’ve been following the protocol in the book The Elimination Diet. It’s written by renowned nutritionist, Tom Malterre, and his wife, Ali Segersten, who also authored the Nourishing Meals cookbook.

One of the recipes I tried was for a simple vegetable soup. I used the concept behind the soup as my guide and created my own version of it, which I’m sharing with you today.

It’s full of nourishing, calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients that promote healing and a sense of warmth and comfort. It makes enough to feed 8-10 people, so we like to make it at the beginning of the week to take care of 4-5 meals for both of us. You can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and serving it with a few hunks of avocado on top is especially delicious!

Veggie Lover Chickpea Soup

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
8 cups sodium-free vegetable broth (check out my super EASY recipe here)
3 cups kale, destemmed and chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons Herbamare OR 1 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a 4 to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining chopped vegetables, beans, thyme (if you have it) and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  3. Add kale, parsley, salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 more minutes.

This soup serves about 8-10 people.

We store it in glass mason jars. If you are going to freeze it, leave about 2 inches of room at the top of the jar to allow for expansion in the freezer.

5-Minute Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream {Paleo}

It finally feels like winter, and I’m pretty sure I saw my first snowflake yesterday…but that didn’t stop me from making ice cream!

This recipe is a variation of the 2-minute banana ice cream recipe I shared a few years ago. This is a GREAT way to use up bananas that have seen better days instead of throwing them away 🙂 Just peel and then freeze them, so you’re always prepared to make banana ice cream.

This recipe is quick and easy to make, and the texture is just like soft serve ice cream. I have no idea how frozen bananas turn into such a smooth and creamy consistency, but they do. It’s pretty amazing, and if you haven’t tried it before, all you need is a food processor to make it happen!

I put a seasonal spin on the original recipe by adding pumpkin puree and some festive, warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg. I topped mine with some chopped pecans, but you could also use pumpkin seeds or even some dark chocolate chips.

Enjoy!

pumpkin-ice-cream-title pumpkin-ice-cream-closeup

Ingredients

2 cups peeled, frozen bananas cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch cloves
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch fine grain sea salt
Chopped pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. Put the frozen bananas in the food processor. Grind the bananas until they resemble this gravel-like consistency. Keep processing until the bananas resemble a smooth consistency. See this post for pictures of the process.
  2. Add in pumpkin puree, spices and maple syrup. Pulse until evenly combined. Add toppings and serve immediately (my preference) or follow step #3 below.
  3. Pour ice cream into parchment-lined glass baking dish with lid and freeze to firm up consistency. Once hardened, lift ice cream block out of dish using corners of parchment paper and cut the block of ice cream into cubes. Return cubes to food processor and follow step 1 above until it becomes creamy again.

No-Bake Gingerbread Cookie Bites

I’d been wanting to come up with a new holiday recipe (and I absolutely love dessert!), so when my friend, Brenda, suggested that I try the Gingerbread Larabar, I was inspired to make this recipe.

The first time I tried ginger, I wasn’t a fan, but over the years, I’ve grown to love it! It’s one of my favorite ingredients because it’s versatile, flavorful and full of some serious health-promoting benefits, including digestive support.

Gingerbread recipes take things one step further with the addition of the blackstrap molasses. Of all of the sweeteners out there, blackstrap molasses is one of the few that has some serious nutritional value.

organic-molassesEven though blackstrap molasses is a form of sugar, it has a better nutrient profile than its counterparts. Check out a few of the reasons why blackstrap molasses is an upgrade when you’re looking for something sweet:

It has a very distinct flavor, but in this recipe, I only use a little bit, and it brings everything together and adds a hint of the signature molasses flavor you’ve come to expect from gingerbread.

I’ve taste-tested these treats with coworkers, friends, and family, and everyone is on board, so I know you will love them! If you want to get fancy, you can roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper and use little gingerbread cookie cutters to make shapes!gingerbread-person-bites-trio-bannergingerbread-bites-trio gingerbread-bites-closeup

No-Bake Gingerbread Cookie Bites

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup almonds
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cloves
1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Directions

  1. Combine nuts, spices and salt in food processor until finely ground.
  2. Add dates, vanilla and molasses and process until everything starts sticking together.
  3. Form hunks of dough into 1-inch balls and roll or flatten to make cookies. Store in glass container in the fridge or freezer.

Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

Isn’t pumpkin the best?

Pumpkin seeds, pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin fudge, pumpkin-spiced anything. If I can find a way to get pumpkin or pumpkin pie spice into it, I will.

I’ve made this delicious pumpkin spice dip multiple times over the past few weeks and have been trying for the past two years to come up with a pumpkin energy bite recipe.

It took me a half a dozen attempts before coming up with this winner 🙂

pumpkin-spice-bite-solopumpkin-seeds-pecans

I like to think of these no-bake bites as triple pumpkin bites because I used just about every component I could – pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie spice, and a teeny bit of pumpkin puree. They’re like a taste of fall in every bite – pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove, and all things pumpkin.

I’m grateful to my friend, Jenn, for gently nudging me today to take steps toward publishing an e-book with a bunch of my no-bake bite recipes.

“Do you think anyone would buy it??” I asked.

“YES!!!” she responded, without hesitation.

She said it would be so much easier to make my recipes over and over again, sooooo I committed to doing it! THIS will be one of the recipes in that e-book! Stay tuned for more news about that before Christmastime 🙂 (SO EXCITED!)

In the meantime, enjoy these little bites of fall.

pumpkin-spice-bites

Pecan-Coated Pumpkin Spice Bites

Ingredients

Coating

  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dough

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), shelled
  • 1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup pecans and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in food processor until small hunks of pecan remain. Pour into medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine pecans, pepitas, spices and salt in a food processor and pulse until it reaches a fine meal.
  3. Add vanilla, dates and pumpkin puree and process until everything is combined. Remove from food processor and shape into a large ball.
  4. Tear off 1-inch hunks and roll into a ball between your palms. Roll ball in pecan mixture and store in glass container in the fridge. You can also freeze them!

Simply Sautéed Mushrooms {& Cauliflower Mash}

Jenna, one of the participants from a recent cooking class I taught about healing foods, had this to say about today’s recipe:

Everyone in my family thought the cauliflower mash was potatoes!!!! They were super creamy.”

Jenna is in high school but is going to be doing big things in the healing foods space in the coming years, as she pursues studies in nutrition in college. Keep your eye out for her!

rachel-jennaI’ve shared the base of this recipe before in this post for Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash but put a new spin on it by topping it with mushrooms, a food often used as a stand-in for meat because of their chewy texture.

Mushrooms are immune-boosting, cancer-fighting powerhouses and don’t get nearly enough love in our kitchens and on our plates.

mushrooms-solo

I hated mushrooms for most of my life because I was too grossed out by what they looked like to even be open to trying them. Now, I’m a big fan, whether they are chopped up in a soup or stew, roasted, or served sautéed like they are in this dish.

You can serve this up as a Thanksgiving side dish. It’s a great way to upgrade your plate without sacrificing flavor. With a whole head of roasted garlic and a tablespoon of fresh thyme in the potatoes along with a generous sprinkling of oregano on the mushrooms, no one will complain that this dish lacks flavor.

Next step? Come up with a sauce to top it off 🙂

mushroom-mash-angle mushrooms-mash-closeup

Simply Sautéed Mushrooms 

Ingredients

1 (8-ounce) package cremini (baby Portobello) mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 tablespoons avocado oil, coconut oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
Black pepper, to taste
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until oil shimmers.
  2. Add mushrooms to pan, evenly coating them with oil. Spread into a single layer and let cook for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper, stir and cook 5-6 minute more, until mushrooms begin to brown and soften. Toss with oregano and serve.

Serve as a side dish or on top of some roasted garlic cauliflower mash.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

Isn’t fall food the best?

What’s not to like?

Soups, stews, chilis, squash, apples, Thanksgiving, and

Brussels sprouts!brussels-salad-closeup

I’ve always liked certain vegetables that other kids didn’t like, including Brussels sprouts, but I think the Parmesan cheese shower I coated them with as a kid helped hide the taste. I think I liked the taste of the cheese…not so much the bitter taste of the overcooked Brussels sprouts.

Brussels sprouts get a bad rap because most of us have only ever eaten them steamed or boiled to death, which releases all of the not so pleasant smells most of us associate with Brussels sprouts.

BUT it doesn’t have to be that way? Brussels sprouts don’t have to be awful.

They can be incredibly delicious, especially when roasted, sautéed, or prepared raw, which is what we’re doing for today’s recipe. I first served this dish at a Healing Foods cooking class I taught in Baltimore recently, and it was a hit.

healing-foods-group

It gave me an excuse to use the food processor, which I demo’d on a Facebook live video. Using a food processor is SO MUCH FASTER and more efficient than chopping things like Brussels sprouts by hand.

The brand I recommend and have had the most success with is Cuisinart. I have an 11-cup style and a 14-cup style, and the 11-cup is sufficient for most things I do on a daily basis. You can find the best deals on their food processors on Amazon.

Brussels sprouts are in the cruciferous veggie family, which includes all-stars like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, collard greens and kale.

The compounds in Brussels sprouts help activate cancer-fighting enzyme systems in your body and support detoxification (cleaning out the gunk). Upping your intake of these mini cabbages can also help reduce inflammation and your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

If you’ve always been a Brussels sprouts hater or skeptic, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Serve it up to family and friends – I bet they’ll never know they’re eating Brussels sprouts!

brussels-salad-whole-platebrussels-salad-angle

Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad with Walnuts

Ingredients

1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1.5 lemons)
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp 100% pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
1/4 cup naturally sweetened cranberries (optional)

Directions
1. Working in small batches, place brussels sprouts in feed tube of processor fitted with shredding blade. Pour shredded Brussels sprouts into large bowl.

2. Whisk dressing ingredients (lemon juice through black pepper) together starting with the lemon juice, streaming in the olive oil last. Toss with brussels sprouts to coat evenly. Add more dressing if needed. To soften Brussels sprouts, refrigerate salad at least 30 minutes.

3. Top with walnuts and dried cranberries.

This salad will hold up well for a few days in the fridge 🙂

Do you have any favorite Brussels sprouts recipes? Feel free to share them below!

Sundried Tomato Basil Quinoa Salad {Gluten-Free}

We’ve been making the most of the last days of summer and have spent just about every weekend and multiple nights a week hanging out with friends and family.

We also went to the Zac Brown Band concert on Friday night with thousands of other people, and it was AMAZING! I highly recommend seeing one of their shows if you get a chance. Their music is fun, upbeat, and makes you want to dance!

Zac Brown band

Because of all of this, I’ve really felt like a little social butterfly lately…and I’m loving it!

As someone who used to prefer being alone over being with people, I’m enjoying all of the socializing we’ve been doing. One of the commitments my husband, Bill, and I made at the beginning of the year was to be more intentional about spending time with friends and other couples, even during what is often a busy week.

Why the focus on so much more social time?

In his book Wellbeing, Tom Rath writes about the importance of social time in reducing our stress and worry and boosting our wellbeing. To have a thriving day, we need 6 HOURS of social time.  That includes time at work, home, with friends, talking on the phone, and even sending email (scrolling through Facebook doesn’t count) – anything that gives us an opportunity to directly connect with another human being. If six hours sounds kind of daunting, even three hours of social time cuts your chances of having a bad day to 10%. That’s reason enough for me to be more social!

We had a socially-packed day this past Sunday and easily hit the 6-hour mark by spending a few hours at church in the morning, going to a friend’s party in the afternoon, and visiting my in-laws that evening.

The party we went to on Sunday afternoon was a potluck-style party, so I decided to bring a new recipe that I had first taste-tested with my friend, Jeanne, on Friday night.

I was inspired to make this recipe when I was munching on the Tomato Basil version of Chickpeatos, one of my favorite snacks and a great substitute for croutons.

“Hmmm, wouldn’t it be great to combine those flavors into a salad?”

tomato-basil-bowl IMG_7572IMG_7573

So, off I went to experiment with a combo of sundried tomatoes (oh my gosh, so good!), fresh basil and a base of quinoa.

This recipe looks like Christmas in a bowl with its red and green accents, so it’s a perfect way to celebrate the transition from summer to cooler weather. You’re going to love it!

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Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped (I use these)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or oil from sundried tomatoes jar)
1/2 cup Watusee Foods Tomato Basil Chickpeatos

Directions

  1. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until almost all of the water is absorbed. DO NOT STIR QUINOA. Remove quinoa from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes to steam. Remove lid and fluff with fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk lemon juice, salt, pepper and garlic together, then whisk in oil.
  3. In a large bowl, toss quinoa with sundried tomatoes, beans, and basil with dressing and top with Chickpeatos.

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